It's Data Protection Day - so here's a few tips to keeping your data safe

Data Protection Day may not sound as exciting as something like Chocolate Cake Day but it does serve a purpose by raising awareness of the importance of privacy and protecting your data online.

Keeping your data private and out of reach is a necessity in this digital era of social media use and increased cyber crime. Last year saw an overwhelming number of reports of data breaches and targeted cyber attacks on businesses, organisations and on individuals too which has seen an unprecedented number of new steps to ensure we're doing our best to protect ourselves online.

Data Protection Day, also known as Data Privacy Day focuses on the importance of protecting your privacy online and on your mobile to avoid being a victim of cyber crime and fraud. Although some situations can be beyond our control, there are a number of things we can do to protect our data online from lurkers.

Here are some tips to increase your personal security online and to keep your privacy protected.

Be careful what you share online

Make sure you know exactly who you're sharing information with online and that you trust the person you're talking to. You should never upload anything that you wouldn't want the world to know about because once something goes online, you can rarely reverse the damage. Online dating has also proved to be a common ground for scammers with reports of fake profiles requesting money and other personal information to be sent over to allegedly pay for tickets, visas and urgent medical treatment. If you spot this kind of activity then trust your instinct and move on as it's never worth the hassle and problems that it could cause

You will never be asked for your personal information

Banks and other organisations that handle your personal and sensitive data will always relay the same, important message to keep your information secure which is they will never call you to ask for any personal information. This includes bank details, passwords, security answers and anything else that could provide clues of getting into your account. Always refuse to give out any information or details if you are contacted by phone or email, even if it does sound or look genuine. It's simply much safer to get in touch with the company yourself and speak with an advisor who can verify whether or not you were being tricked and can be reported.

Keep Your Devices and Operating System Up to Date

It can be slightly tedious seeing another update for your device but security updates can be very important to protect yourself from viruses and attacks. Hackers and other cyber criminals are always looking for exploits to gain access to different devices and applications and their relentless efforts can sometimes find ways in. If the company acts quick, they can patch up the exploit and prevent your device being affected, but if you find yourself on an older version you may be at risk. 

Lock Your Phone and Enable Remote Data Destruction if Lost

Losing your mobile phone or having it stolen can be very stressful and problematic, especially if you have sensitive data and access to systems and accounts. Keeping a pin lock or authentication system on your phone is very important and can help protect your data and personal files to anyone who suddenly has access to your phone. iOS and Android phones also come with the option to remote destroy your data on the phone which is something certainly worth considering if you're concerned about your data getting into the wrong hands.

Have a Complex Password and Change it every 6 months

We recently posted a list of the most commonly used passwords of 2015 and it was shocking to such simple phrases still being used. Most websites will prompt you to use a complex, 8-16 character password that has a capital letter, a number and an explanation. It may be harder to remember, but it can help keep you better protected online and less likely for anyone to guess your password.

Other ways to look after yourself online

You can find out more about looking after yourself online by through Be Cyber Streetwise, an organisation funded by the National Cyber Security Programme to help improve your online safety with tips, advice and resources to keep your personal data private and secure.